Blackbird is accelerating sustainable video production with the cloud

Blackbird is accelerating sustainable video production with the cloud


Ian McDonough discusses the firm’s  partnership with Microsoft and current trends in cloud-native technology

Alice Chambers |

With video content becoming increasingly popular, it has never been more important for broadcasters and creators to ensure that they are able to deliver a seamless experience to users.

To achieve this goal, they can implement Blackbird, a cloud native video editing and publishing platform which enables remote editing so that video content can be created and published from anywhere and at any time. In partnership with Microsoft, Blackbird supports providers with Microsoft Azure technology to deliver fast, efficient and sustainable video production in the cloud.  

“Microsoft technologies enable our cloud-native platform’s unique benefits to be enjoyed by broadcasters to the full,” says Ian McDonough, CEO at Blackbird. “It allows us to facilitate very fast, low-cost, flexible and sustainable video content creation. Blackbird has a very light technical footprint compared to traditional non-linear editing in the cloud.”  

Blackbird has been working with Microsoft to reduce carbon emissions for content providers by promoting the environmental and cost benefits of decarbonising video production. For example, its previous white paper Video shouldn’t cost the Earth demonstrated how Blackbird’s efficient cloud native architecture reduced carbon emissions by up to 91 per cent compared to cloud-based and on-premises editing workflows. The company has also just released its ground-breaking follow up paper, Decarbonizing Video Production.  

The company also joined Microsoft at NAB 2022 as a booth partner. “The event was a resounding success as we demonstrated the huge workflow efficiencies of true cloud-native editing on Azure to hundreds of media companies,” says McDonough. Overall, NAB demonstrated that the major efficiency benefits of cloud native video editing and publishing are too important to ignore.  

“The mood has gone from cloud acceptance to cloud adoption,” claims McDonough. “The last couple of years have proven the cloud to be capable of delivering performance far in excess of what many on-premises facilities are able to offer.  

“Top of the list of benefits is the ability to work faster. Freed from the constraint of being in a particular facility, people are able to work flexibly and productively.”  

Blackbird carried out a recent global survey with Caretta Research and found that 90 per cent of video professionals have adopted cloud production and remote editing in their workflows – yet 65 per cent are inefficiently and needlessly moving large files around.  

“For those that have not yet migrated to remote editing, the limiting factor is often how the cloud is integrated into the overall workflow and that’s where Blackbird has a very strong story. Most remote editing is still implemented using old-school ‘lift and shift’ workflows in which users move original high-resolution media files around the internet. With our platform, there is simply no requirement to move large media assets around, saving significant time, energy and costs.”  

Some content providers use cloud-based tools rather than cloud-native solutions. “These solutions are indeed superior to traditional outside broadcast technology,” says McDonough. “However, they still require dedicated hardware – cloud-based tools are simply stored somewhere else and controlled remotely over the internet.  

“Cloud-native solutions like Blackbird do not use or require dedicated hardware or infrastructure. This is the only way the industry can unlock the real benefits of cloud – namely scalability, flexibility and sustainability. If the solution is not cloud native or browser-based, it is just a stopgap to the inevitable future.”   

Blackbird has been deployed by a variety of customers on Microsoft Azure, including the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia and New Zealand as well as one of the world’s leading sports federations. Another client is Deltatre which uses Blackbird to create content for the NFL’s Game Pass platform – the league’s premium subscription service. Deltatre’s digital production teams in the USA, UK and Italy collaborate using Blackbird to quickly create sport highlights for millions of fans to enjoy.   

The NRL streams sports games that are run through Azure and from content partners’ production locations. “The NRL’s digital team use Blackbird to rapidly create and publish highlights to social and over-the-top platforms,” says McDonough. “Clips can be delivered within just 30 seconds.”  

These examples showcase how Blackbird leverages Microsoft technologies to provide organisations that create video at scale with a solution for fast, lower cost and sustainable content creation that improves efficiencies and performance.   

“Our partnership with Microsoft is stronger than ever, and we’re tremendously excited to continue working closely together to provide the industry’s most efficient and innovative cloud video solutions.”

This article was originally published in the Summer 2022 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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